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Civil Law: Property

G.R. No. 210252


June 16, 2014
Partition; Quieting; Res Judicata; Art. 494 (NCC) as an exception to
Rule 17, Sec. 3 of the Rules of Court
VILMA QUINTOS vs. PELAGIA I. NICOLAS
Petitioners and respondents are siblings. In 1999, both their parents passed
away, leaving to their 10 children ownership over the subject property. An
action for partition was subsequently brought before the RTC. However, for
failure of the parties and their counsels to appear despite due notice, the
case was dismissed.
Thereafter, the respondent siblings executed a Deed of Adjudication to
transfer the property in favor of the 10 siblings. As a result, the old TCT was
cancelled and the Registry of Deeds issued a new one. The respondents
subsequently sold their 7/10 undivided share in favor of the spouses
Candelario.
The petitioners filed a complaint for Quieting of Title and Damages against
the respondents.
Respondents countered that petitioners cause of action was already barred
by estoppel when sometime in 2006, one of petitioners offered to buy the
7/10 undivided share of the respondent siblings. They point out that this is an
admission on the part of petitioners that the property is not entirely theirs. In
addition, they claimed that Bienvenido and Escolastica Ibarra mortgaged the
property but because of financial constraints, respondent spouses Candelario
had to redeem the property in their behalf. Not having been repaid by
Bienvenido and Escolastica, the Candelarios accepted from their corespondents their share in the subject property as payment. Lastly,
respondents sought, by way of counterclaim, the partition of the property.
The RTC dismissed the petitioners complaint, ruling that the respondent
siblings were entitled to their respective shares and that the subsequent
transfer of interest in favor of the respondent spouses Candelario was upheld.
Likewise, the court ordered the partition of the subject lots between the
herein plaintiffs and the defendants-spouses Candelarios.
CA affirmed the decision of the RTC.
ISSUES:
1. Whether or not the petitioners were able to prove ownership over the
property;
2. Whether or not the respondents counterclaim for partition is already
barred by laches or res judicata; and

3. Whether or not the CA was correct in approving the subdivision agreement


as basis for the partition of the property.
RULING:
The petition is meritorious in part.
1. Petitioners were not able to prove equitable title or ownership over the
property
For an action to quiet title to prosper, two indispensable requisites must
concur, namely: (1) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal or equitable title
to or interest in the real property subject of the action; and (2) the deed,
claim, encumbrance, or proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on the title
must be shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite its prima facie
appearance of validity or efficacy. In the case at bar, the CA correctly
observed that petitioners cause of action must necessarily fail mainly in view
of the absence of the first requisite.
Their alleged open, continuous, exclusive, and uninterrupted possession of
the subject property is belied by the fact that respondent siblings, in 2005,
entered into a Contract of Lease with the Avico Lending Investor Co. over the
subject lot without any objection from the petitioners.
The cardinal rule is that bare allegation of title does not suffice. The burden of
proof is on the plaintiff to establish his or her case by preponderance of
evidence
2. The counterclaim for partition is not barred by prior judgment
Dismissal with prejudice under Rule 17, Sec. 3 of the Rules of Court cannot
defeat the right of a co-owner to ask for partition at any time, provided that
there is no actual adjudication of ownership of shares yet. Pertinent hereto is
Article 494 of the Civil Code.
Between dismissal with prejudice under Rule 17, Sec. 3 and the right granted
to co-owners under Art. 494 of the Civil Code, the latter must prevail. To
construe otherwise would diminish the substantive right of a co-owner
through the promulgation of procedural rules. Substantive law cannot be
amended by a procedural rule. This further finds support in Art. 496 of the
New Civil Code.
Thus, for the Rules to be consistent with statutory provisions, We hold that
Art. 494, as cited, is an exception to Rule 17, Sec. 3 of the Rules of Court to
the effect that even if the order of dismissal for failure to prosecute is silent
on whether or not it is with prejudice, it shall be deemed to be without
prejudice.
In the case at bar, the co-ownership, as determined by the trial court, is still
subsisting 30-70 in favor of respondent spouses Candelario. Consequently,

there is no legal bar preventing herein respondents from praying for the
partition of the property through counterclaim.
3. The CA erred in approving the Agreement for Subdivision
Agreement of Subdivision allegedly executed by respondent spouses
Candelario and petitioners cannot serve as basis for partition, for, as stated in
the pre-trial order, herein respondents admitted that the agreement was a
falsity and that petitioners never took part in preparing the same. It,
therefore, lacked the essential requisite of consent.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby PARTLY GRANTED.
The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
No. 98919 dated July 8, 2013 and November 22, 2013, respectively, are
hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The case is hereby REMANDED to the
RTC, Branch 68 in Camiling, Tarlac for purposes of partitioning the subject
property in accordance with Rule 69 of the Rules of Court.